A new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two entities formalises their future cooperation, including developing joint research and sharing operating procedures

This week, the Italian Navy have announced a new partnership with Telecom Italia’s submarine cable subsidiary, Sparkle, pledging to jointly improve the protection of national subsea infrastructure. 

As part of the partnership, the duo plans to work together on shared operating procedures and potentially joint reconnaissance and monitoring activities in the areas surrounding Sparkle’s cables. 

In return, Sparkle will benefit from the Navy’s cartographic information regarding the seabed.

“The Italian Navy is one of the main pillars of national maritime cluster and works daily to defend and support it,” said Admiral Enrico Credendino, Chief of the Italian Navy. “We have professional competences and skills to perform submarine operations and today, also thanks to Sparkle, an important process begins that gives the right attention to the underwater dimension of Italy, a maritime country with 8,000 km of coastline, at the centre of the Mediterranean Sea.” 

The MoU announcement also suggests that the partnership will allow for joint research activities on topics deemed to be ‘of common interest’ to both parties.

Given the sensitive nature of partnerships with the military, it should come as no surprise that the details surrounding the partnership are relatively nebulous in this announcement. Nonetheless, the agreement highlights the increasing acknowledgement of the vital nature of international submarine cable systems, particularly in the wake of the highly volatile global political environment right now. 

With submarine cables carrying such an enormous proportion of the world’s data traffic, sabotaging or listening in on these cables have enormous implications for national security, making it hardly surprising that the Italian military wants to keep a close eye on them.

In fact, suggestions of subsea sabotage have already been reported this year, with the Svalbard Undersea Cable System near Norway being partially knocked out of operation early in the year due to an unexplained incident, which the media was quick to speculate was due to Russian espionage attempts. 

The investigation into the incident is still ongoing. 

How is the increasing politicisation of submarine cable infrastructure impacting global telecommunications? Find out from the experts at this year’s live Submarine Networks EMEA event